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Utah Environmental Congress (UEC) has merged with WildEarth Guardians, here is why...
A late summer field trip in 1998 to a proposed timber sale on the Fishlake National Forest’s Thousand Lakes Mountain (the headwaters of Capitol Reef National Park’s Waterpocket Fold), served as the catalyst for the formation of the Utah Environmental Congress (UEC). A decision was made that Utah needed a lean and sharply effective state-wide National Forest watchdog; one that covered all six National Forests and that provided a strong voice for forests and wildlife.
UEC formed and provided a unique niche in Utah’s environmental community. We actively participated in democracy in action by holding the federal government (U.S. Forest Service) accountable to its own federal environmental laws and regulations. Prior to UEC the major focus of environmental work in Utah had been on BLM lands. UEC changed that providing stalwart protection for National Forests and the wildlife that called them home.
Our mission statement: “Reclaiming and acting upon our ancestral responsibility to the land, the Utah Environmental Congress brings people together to engage in genuine protection of living forest systems that provide islands of refuge in Utah's desert country.” UEC trained many citizens in the administrative appeals process and how to comment on Forest Service projects affecting their public lands. After conducting the most extensive Inventoried Roadless Area survey in history on Forest Service lands, UEC led the effort and worked with other environmental organizations to develop a unified Utah Wilderness Proposal. And we stopped outright or improved hundreds of environmentally damaging timber sales, livestock grazing allotments, oil & gas leases, coal mining, and motorized recreation. Please see a selection of our 15 year accomplishments HERE.
UEC successfully changed the way the Forest Service did business in Utah. Prior to UEC the Forest Service went largely unchallenged and the vast majority of its destructive projects were implemented unimpeded. In 2002, the Forest Service reported UEC as one of the top ten groups in the United States that were a major barrier to increased timber sales on National Forest lands. During UEC’s first five years we lowered the logging off the National Forests in Utah by a whopping 66%! We set legal precedents in Utah District Court and at the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. We successfully litigated numerous grazing allotments forcing the Forest Service to undertake substantive environmental analyses. We stopped the largest oil & gas lease project in Utah history on Forest Service lands, as well as stopping several coal mining operations.
In 2011 CounterPunch named UEC one of the “Ten Small Green Groups That Make a Big Difference.” CounterPunch wrote: “Utah, which still harbors some of the wildest country in the lower-48, is under perpetual siege from uranium and coal mining, oil drilling, tar sands and shale extraction, logging and a crazy scheme to put a nuclear power plant near the small town of Green River. The UEC often finds itself alone on many of these battles. They are a fearless and unflinching outfit that doesn’t back down. Instead they advance. Their latest project is an audacious campaign to bring wolves back to Utah. Now that’s a radical and welcome idea!”
It isn’t easy doing environmental work in Utah and UEC was fortunate to have the support of thousands of individuals including members, volunteers and environmental foundations. Their stalwart support made our work possible and we remain forever grateful to each and every one of them. As UEC merges with WildEarth Guardians our Forest Monitoring Program (FMP) will not only continue, but expand into other areas casting a long shadow over the Forest Service. UEC’s formidable FMP will result in further environmental protection of National Forests and wildlife throughout the southwest. UEC’s mission, staff, and expertise complements WildEarth Guardians ongoing work to protect National Forests and wildlife, while ensuring UEC’s vision will continue into the future.